From Scott… My friend Torry Anderson is a huge fan of movies. And he’s a great writer. So when I get a chance to send him to a movie screening, I know I can expect a really interesting review. Here’s what Torry has to say about ANT-MAN AND THE WASP.
A steady hand wins Marvel the day in their most recent venture into the lives of Scott Lang, a.k.a. Ant-Man, and his band of fugitive players.
Once again director Peyton Reed proves that smaller just might be better as he gives us an inverted take on the MCU after this spring’s MASSIVE culmination, Avengers: Infinity War! While the action is big and visually thrilling, the film itself takes place over a few days and in the landscape of only one city. There is no globetrotting, no villains salivating for world domination, no iron-suited billionaire cameos swooping in to save the day. Instead we are presented with a heartwarming tale of a father (or three… No spoilers!), doing his best for a daughter he desperately wants to protect.
The audience is caught up on Ant-Man’s unfortunate status, post-Civil War, his team of reformed thieves-turned-business owners, as well as his strained relationship with Hank Pym and Hope Van Dyne. Scott’s desire to stay out of trouble and return to his average-sized life, however, is interrupted by visits from ghosts of partners past, FBI handlers present and a mysterious phase-shifting thief literally named Ghost! His future then takes a turn for the weird as he is thrust back into a whirlwind combination of traditional super-hero action, cops and robbers heist-fest and mind-bending psychedelic trips into a “quantum realm!” Right?
Never fear; as seemingly frenetic a description as it all may seem, a solid story and stellar cast make for a brilliantly “small” feeling two hours. As ever, Paul Rudd brings a dopey charisma that always charms and stays safely away from awkwardness or discomfort. His ability to seem both adorably unsure of his abilities as well as thrilled to ride the ride, are fun, hilarious and the makings of a “relatable” hero that just might be SUPER! At times the film feels as though Rudd’s out-of-suit scenes could just as easily come from a Apatow or McKay family comedy; impeccable writing and directing!
Aside from Marvel’s obvious ensemble films (Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy) few MCU movies have the marvelous talent and enigmatic fun presented in its entire supporting cast, as is in the Ant-Man franchise!! Evangeline Lilly and Michael Douglas effectively portray the father-daughter hero-makers, often with surprising hopes and plans of their own. Lilly and Rudd maintain a passable, if not believable chemistry that seems hindered only by the amount of “alone time” they actually spend onscreen. Michelle Pfeiffer joins the cast as the long-lost Janet Van Dyne, a relatively brief appearance but delightful none the less. Randall Park is also new as the eager/bumbling FBI agent tasked with checking in on Rudd’s Lang. The two of whom have a great time onscreen with each other and I hope we see Park in further MCU movies.
A review of an Ant-Man movie would NOT be complete without praising the brilliant inclusion of Michael Peña, T.I., and David Dastmalchian as Lang’s team of burglars-turned-security consultants. Their chemistry is superb and Peña’s manic energy steals every scene he is in!
Where I will place criticism is on the MCU’s eternal stain: the villain. After revelations like Killmonger and Thanos, Ant-Man and the Wasp had a tough road ahead of them. Hannah John-Kamen as Ghost had immense potential; a killer design and a tragic backstory were a bit obscured by an unfortunate lack of actual time onscreen. Her characterization felt rushed and the audience is simply not allowed time to care as much as they really want to.
A wonderful cast, an exciting script, and a director who cares enough to risk making such a “Lilliputian” film in the aftermath of the largest collection of super powered characters ever put on screen makes Ant-Man and the Wasp a breath of fresh air on the road to showing just how diverse the superhero blockbuster can actually be. Don’t get me wrong, it will be a massive success. It will make ALL the money. But micro-diversity counts and brings new perspectives and a new audience to an appreciation of today’s myth. Enjoy your summer and let Ant-Man and the Wasp put a smile on your face!